17 Mar 08
The organisers of Rally Argentina have taken steps to cope with the effects of both good and bad weather on the upcoming fourth round of the 2008 WRC season.
The rally starts on 28 March, during the last week of the Argentinean summer, statistically a period when weather conditions are very changeable and could range from hot and dry to extremely wet.
Organisers have already decided to ban spectators from heavily wooded areas of the San Agustin to Villa General Belgrano stage (run as SS12 and SS16) because of the risk of fires if conditions are hot and dry. Conversely, because of the threat of heavy rainfall, this year’s route avoids stages in flood plain areas north of Villa Carlos Paz where flash floods can occur.
Irrespective of the weather conditions in Argentina all WRC competitors will use the same type of hard compound Pirelli Scorpion tyre used on Rally Mexico. This decision was taken at the end of 2007 based on the most likely stage conditions.
“If it’s wet then of course you’d prefer the softer compound option, but that’s the nature of the sport now,” said Subaru’s team manager Paul Howarth. “The stages of day one can be fairly rough and cut up anyway, so there won’t be much of a difference there, but using the harder compound on days two and three could be difficult it it’s wet - especially on Saturday’s stages. If that’s the case, road conditions will be very tricky and the drivers will just have to get through. Even with a soft tyre it wouldn’t be easy but all the drivers will be in the same situation.”
After Rally Mexico reigning champion Sebastien Loeb acknowledged the upcoming challenge. “Compared to Mexico the tyres in Argentina will be more difficult,” he said. “The very hot conditions were good for hard compound tyres. Argentina is colder and softer and hard tyres can be a problem.”